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Can programs be run (not installed) off an external hard drive?


New Member
I am in the market to buy a portable pc. Instead of buying yet another bulky laptop, I though it might be nice to have a Surface. Ultimately, I would like to run Photoshop and Quickbooks on it. I am curious, however.... Would it be possible to install programs to an external hard drive and actually run them from that drive, effectively not installing anything (or very little) to the Surface itself?

For all I know, this may not even be possible on a PC. I have never tried.

It's absolutely possible, and works with most programs. You would just need to ensure you change the installation directory when you install the programs. These programs aren't that large however, so you may be causing yourself just a little more hassle in the long run. I think each are only about 2-3GB to install so you're not sacrificing much.

With Photoshop though I can see where tons of photos will eat up disk space - I use about 200-300GB in photos on my iMac for Photoshop, granted I have a 1TB hard drive there. I say install those programs on your C: - and use an external hard drive to carry your storage - which is what most people do. Other than gaming, all my apps are on my C: drive, and I use different external drives to store my media and stuff.

Don't forget you'd have the microSD slot available too - I have 2 x 64GB cards for that plus my external drives.
Shouldn't be any reason why not, but bear in mind they may not perform as quick being on external storage.
Most Win32 programs will balk at installing on a removable drive, the work around is to create a Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) on your external device and mount to the Surface and then install you apps to the VHD. You create and attach VHDs in the Disk Management Control Panel from the Administration Tools (desktop control panel).